I just received an update from the Harvard Kennedy School in their “Innovators Insights” newsletter that Miami-Dade school district in Florida just made mid-term and final tests optional in grades 6-12. At first read, I thought to myself “Wow, that’s really great and surprising!” Then I read the article.
All that’s happened is a bait and switch. There’s no substantive change in my opinion, although they have certainly reduced the burden they impose on students. Essentially, the state has moved to common end of course tests so that all Florida students can be measured together per subject area. Mid-terms and finals are a redundancy in this system from a bureaucratic point of view, so the district did away with them.
So in my opinion, this is a red herring or false protagonist. It reinforces state controlled and standardized schools, reduces teacher autonomy, and fortunately has the happy side effect that students don’t have to live under the pressure of something made up in the name of their “betterment.”
I love ( that’s sarcasm) how students were surprised and excited about the decision–highlighting how little say they have in their education and how little they expect from decision makers.
What do you think? Am I misreading this situation? Does it in some real and meaningful way represent progress towards student-centered learning?